Fall in Southern California


We have color!!  Such a happy, happy surprise!  The trees behind and in front of our apartment changed color in late September, and have only recently started loosing their leaves.   One of my sweet sisters-in-law sent us a box of “fall” from the East coast, which included the pumpkin window stickers.  Peter likes to smooch/lick them while he watches the cars go by.  And that last picture- I was on a walk with Peter the other day, and that palm tree just cracked me up.  Dude!  Your buddies are changing color!  Get with the program!

IMG_2246 IMG_2289One of the first things we did when we moved here was purchase a membership to Descanso Gardens, which is a lovely spot just a two minute drive (up-hill… that’s why we drive… don’t judge) from our apartment.  It is just GLORIOUS with trees and plants from all over the country.  We looove walking around there and go at least once a week.  A couple of weekends ago we visited for a fall festival with live music and pumpkins galore.IMG_0282 IMG_0283I must say, it is really nice to not have to bundle Peter up every time we go outside.  The two photos above were taken at a park on my birthday in late October.  My kid is in shorts.  Awesome.

But!  We also have days when it is necessary to wear a sweatshirt!  And light a pumpkin-spice scented candle!  And wrap yourself in a blanket!  Peter loves to climb up on the couch and be surrounded by his books and a “cozy blanket.”  Some of his favorite books right now are “Baby Dear” and “Biscuit,” but he will also sit through an entire Francis book, which makes me happy.

Peter loves to color, too.  He usually just wants us to color for him, though, and draw the moon.  He usually picks the orange crayon, so I guess he has a favorite color?
IMG_2387 IMG_2390 IMG_2406 IMG_2407 IMG_2418 IMG_2419More at Descanso, more fall leaves.  Peter’s running around a lot more, but he could stay forever staring at the fish in the koi pond in the Japanese garden.  Or at the bird observatory, gazing at turtles, ducks, and occasionally, the bachelor goose.  “Hi, goose,” Peter always says.  The goose is the only one Peter will greet directly.


A couple of months ago, we joined a CSA.  So, every Saturday morning we pick up box full of Peter’s weight in fruits and veggies that are grown in Southern California.  We never know what we’re going to get, and it’s like Christmas every Monday when I get the e-mail that tells us what what’s coming on Saturday.  Patrick and I usually g-chat eachother: “Honey!!!!  Cauliflower!!!!  And PICKLING CUCUMBERS!!!!”  We’re weird, whatever.  We have each other.  But, the best thing of all?  PERSIMMONS.  How did I live almost 28 years of my life without partaking of this sweet goodness that tastes like it came straight from the Garden of Eden????  Holy moley, these things are delicious.  I was chattering obnoxiously to someone from church about my love of persimmons the other day, and her 6-year-old daughter piped up “You should ask for persimmons for Christmas.”  I should.

There’s a small glimpse of our life this season- sorry for taking so long to post!   Tomorrow, we fly to Massachusetts for my brother’s wedding, which we are ecstatic about.  But we are flying with a walking kiddo for the first time… if you have any last minute advice, please share!!!  We have a borrowed DVD player, lots of snacks, books, crayons… anything else?


Sister Visit!

IMG_0238My very lovely little sister came to visit us this past weekend.  She left eaaaarly Monday morning and I am sad.  But when Beth left the car, nobody boo-hooed harder than poor Peter.  We had such a sweet time together!  It was a nice mix of doing tourist-y things and just enjoying her company.  Patrick and Peter even let us get away so Bethie and I could go wedding dress shopping- she is newly engaged!  She left her fiance to see us!  She’s the best!   And she will be a gorgeous bride.  Here’s what we did:

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Laguna Beach!  We went to Crystal Cove at Laguna on Friday morning.  We had fun exploring the tide pools and hiking along the shore, but the waves were a little rough, so we had to keep a close eye on the babe.  And, well.  You already know my feelings about the baby and the beach.  Luckily, Auntie helped deal with the sandy toddler this time!  Peter just loooooves the beach.  As we were leaving, we saw dolphins leaping about just 20 feet from shore!  So cool.  Annnd we stopped at Chick-fil-a for lunch on the way home. Successful lunch=successful day.  That’s my philosophy.


IMG_1933 IMG_1939 IMG_1950 IMG_1968IMG_0026 IMG_0027 IMG_0241We went to the Getty Museum on Saturday, which is FREE.  Every day!  You do have to pay for parking, but it is so worth it.  It’s huge and beautiful and has amazing views of LA.  Honestly, we mostly chased after Peter outside and in the gardens and enjoyed the views, but we did manage to go through one art exhibit and it was wonderful.  I think we could go back again and again and see something new each time.  Loved it.  And we got to ride a tram!  Peter just seemed a little stunned, but I think one day he’ll enjoy that part.

After the museum ride, we got lunch at In-N-Out Burger.  Now, we had been saving this lunch for a special occasion, such as a sister visiting.  People had been telling us during our whole journey to California that we HAD to go to In-N-Out.  Ok!  The verdict?  It was good, for a fast food burger.  Sorry?!  That’s all I can say about it.  I DID appreciate that they have me extra pickles, and that it was stuffed with fresh lettuce and tomato.  And I also appreciated that it comes with a nice little half sleeve, so you don’t get your hands all greasy.  But still?  It was a fast food burger.  Poor Peter had a banana and a few fries that we threw at him like a seagull.  He seemed pretty happy about it.

Peter almost immediately fell asleep after lunch, so we took the opportunity to drive around and witness Beverly Hills from the safety of our car.  Oh.  My.  Word.  The people who live in Beverly Hills?  And shop in really expensive stores?  And have plastic surgery on their faces?  Why, they actually exist!  Like, the stereotypical people that one might see on TV.  They’re real.  Bethany and Patrick just laughed at me as I stared gawking out the window saying: “These people…. are real?!?!”  It was a very educational experience.

IMG_1993 IMG_2008 IMG_2028 IMG_2032 IMG_1875And we went to the park, ate frozen yogurt and baked treats in our little downtown area, and read a lot of books.  It was a full and happy weekend.  Sisters are the best.  And so are Aunties!  Peter is lucky to have 5 pretty awesome ones.  We miss you, Beth!  Thank you for visiting us.

A wee update

Hello!  We arrived in California, La Canada specifically, on Thursday evening.  An elderly couple has graciously welcomed us into their home until we find an apartment of our own.  Ted & Carol have been so lovely and hospitable, feeding us and loving on our kiddo, but we are anxious to be cooking in our own space and sleeping in our own bed.  Actually, tonight we will find out if we are chosen for an apartment in what we think is an ideal spot.  It’s clean and cozy, much less expensive than other 2-bedroom apartments we have seen, within walking distance to cute shops & restaurants, a farmer’s market, and a grassy park & playground.  We want to live there!!!  If you are the praying kind, please pray that we get this apartment.  We are so ready to unpack and settle in.

Meanwhile, we have really enjoyed being here.  It was wonderful to worship with our new church family yesterday, and it warmed my heart to see Peter being welcomed and loved already by this congregation.  Almost as soon as we arrived, people were taking Peter by the hand and walking him around.  Two teenagers were on their knees talking to him and letting him hold their sunglasses & bracelets.  We are so thankful!  And besides our dear hosts, two other families have already has us over for meals.  One of those families had  taken us around on Friday to different neighborhoods (with their 2 and 6-year-old) to look for apartments, and had even called places on our behalf before we arrived.  On Saturday, when we told them about the apartment we were hoping to get, they actually left their uneaten Chipotle burritos at home, packed up their hungry kids, and drove over to see it with us.  Again, THEY LEFT THEIR BURRITOS.  Amazing folks, I tell you.

So again, we are not settled yet, but we are being well taken care of.  Before we left Massachusetts, our dear friends from Church of the Cross prayed that God would provide a special community for us, and specifically little friends for our little Peter.  And God has provided these things!  I miss my friends in Massachusetts terribly, and shed some tears this weekend thinking of them.  But, you know?  It is a pretty wonderful thing to have friends that you love so much.  Even though it surely makes my heart ache to be so far away.


Ah, the consistency of Starbucks!

Coming soon:  A bakery review!!!  Woohoo!!


Gorgeous Colorado:

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Even though we had a shorter distance to drive today, it felt like the longest.  We got up a bit later than usual, but otherwise, the first half of our day sped by.  It started with breathtaking views of the mountains and a hour or so stop in Vail.  I LOVE VAIL.  There seemed to be something for everyone: food, views, art, recreation, music, kiddo parks and fountains.  I wish we could’ve stayed all day!  There is not a cell in my body that wants to ski, but I totally want to go back to Vail to stay and explore in the summer.


There are stunning hanging baskets and boxes just bursting with flowers all over the place!


Pirate Park for Peter!


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IMG_1501That stream was COLD! But Peter kept wanting to put his toes in… IMG_1502 IMG_1503

As the towns became fewer and far between, I started to get a little restless.  So did Patrick, I think.  The scenery was ever-changing and interesting, but I’m a city gal, and I like to know there are people around.  We did stop at Grand Junction at a Chick-fil-a for a late lunch…


Peter’s first kid’s meal! He’s a kid!

…but then it was a bit desolate-looking again.



Our attempt at a family picture


2nd attempt. Peter thinks it is hilarious to put his finger in his nostril.


It’s hard to believe that we will reach our destination tomorrow.  Not just our destination, but our new home.  Please pray that we will find housing quickly in a place that we feel comfortable and safe in.  And that we can afford!  We are so grateful for the Lord’s protection on our journey and for this opportunity in California.  I imagine that the next several days will be exhausting and a bit stressful, but we are trusting in God’s provision & timing (though we hope it will be soon!).  I will certainly update here when I am able.

Final stop: California!

A Haiku for Nebraska

A Haiku for Nebraska:

Open Nebraska
All land, sky, and fields of corn…
corn and corn and corn

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Well, Nebraska wasn’t the most interesting drive ever.  But we did enjoy our stay in Lincoln.  Especially Peter!  This was his first time in a “big pool,” and he loved it.  These are photos from the phone… sorry about the quality!

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We stopped at Ted’s Montana Grill in Denver (so yummy!) for dinner before a beautiful, hour-long drive to Silverthorne, where we are spending the night.  The mountains are gorgeous!

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We’re looking forward to another scenic drive tomorrow when we head to Utah.  It will be a shorter drive- only six hours- so we are hoping to have some nice long stops along the way.  A dinosaur park, perhaps??

Illinois, Iowa, and more of my Dutch baby

We made it to Lincoln, Nebraska!  We left Holland yesterday morning and were able to attend our old church in Wheaton and spend time with friends from our college days.  My sweet friend Kaitlin and her new husband Patrick let us crash at their apartment after we had dinner together.  Reality started to set in after we pulled out of Wheaton this morning, traveling further West than I have ever been (besides our flight to visit St. Luke’s in May), venturing into unknown territory.  In the spirit of our journey, we are listening to a short book about Lewis and Clark.   We even made my grandparents watch a National Geographic special on the explorers the night before we left.  We’re dorks.

On the way through Iowa, we stopped in Des Moines for burgers and got to visit with another dear friends, Amedee, and her husband Douggie.  It was a short but special visit, and Amedee quickly became one of Peter’s favorite people when she gave him a bite of bacon.  Of course.  We weren’t able to attend their wedding in April, so it was especially sweet that we got to see them as they were traveling to the East coast, and we just happened to be passing in the middle at the same time.


Peter snacking in front of the Capitol building in Des Moines


After our horrendous night in Buffalo, the Country Inn & Suites that we are staying at this evening feels like a palace!!  Seriously.  It’s cozy and clean and no bugs were staring at me when I went to the bathroom.  AND!!!!  We received coupons for free drinks at the restaurant next door.  Yes, please.

To conclude this post, here is what you have all been waiting for: more pictures of my Dutch baby in Holland.  Many of them were taken at Windmill Island, where there were beautiful gardens and an awesome playground.  I also must say again that Peter has been so great on this long trip.  Patrick and I have been constantly amazed by his consistent sweet and happy personality.  He makes us laugh, and he’s actually made the car rides seem a lot shorter.  We love our little boy so much!


first time in a pool!


watering flowers at Windmill Island in Holland


just…. amazing.


Peter loves pickles, just like his Mama

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Tomorrow, we travel across Nebraska and through Denver, Colorado!

Back in March, Patrick and I had a conversation that went like this:

Patrick: should I apply for a job in SoCal?
Jen: i don’t even know what that means
  south california?

Actually, that’s exactly how the conversation went, because I copied it directly from the gchat archives.  And… yes, Jen.  That would be Southern California.  I have learned what SoCal means since then, because we are starting our journey West tomorrow morning!  Right now, we are feeling emotionally and physically drained.  Something very precious is ending here as we leave our Northeast home of three years.  We haven’t always felt happy here exactly, or even at home in our jobs or in our apartment.  But we have certainly felt loved.  And loved well.  It has been so painful to say goodbye- my heart was especially heavy yesterday as we made our way to church for the last time.  But Patrick and I are overflowing with gratitude for our friends and family who have invested in our lives, shared their hearts, and poured love and care on us and our little boy.  We’re also extremely thankful that we’re not going West in a covered wagon, and we will see these friends again!  Planes and Skype are wonderful things.

Baltimore is where we spent our first years of marriage.  Boston is where we started our family.  We’re looking forward to the ways God will bless us in the suburbs of LA.  But until then… we drive!  First stop: Buffalo, NY!